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This is an impressive piece of work.  One resource I found very helpful was 

My Jesus Loves Gays: Why Bible-Believing Christians Should Love and Accept LGBTQ People

by Robert Williams  (Author).  This book is written by a theologically conservative pastor who has effectively walked alongside LGBTQ persons.   I look forward to investigating the links you have provided.  


Thank you for your letter and leadership.   It takes courage to go down this road.   Your situation pretty well describes our church as well.  One major difference is that your leadership is taking the lead in presenting the study, rather than reacting to a set of people who were seen as "pushing for change."    However, just by bringing it up, the council will be upsetting the status quo.  I think it would be wise to think through as a council some sort of timeline that you are implementing, so that you are not forced to be reactive.   Perhaps you will give 6 months for study before you discern the next step.  And who will make that next step?  Will it be the council? The elders? Or a congregational vote?   During this time, some will say, "Let's just focus on the essentials".   It is helpful to remember that almost everything we do as Christians is non-essential to salvation, but we do them anyway.  And sometimes, these things are matters of justice or matters of cultural relevance as we minister to a new generation.  So the important thing is to give an opportunity for the congregation to see that the Scriptures can be interpreted faithfully by either position.  We are. after all a scripturally based church.   It is most helpful to hear both positions from start to finish within the context of a creation, fall, redemption, consummation framework.   Then go back and show how each side makes different interpretive choices.  For instance, it there a hierarchy already in Genesis or not?  Is the curse prescriptive or descriptive?  Is the fact that Eve is named after the curse significant?  Are OT examples of female leadership to shame males? Or is it foreshadowing?  On and on.   Clearly, this is not a small task, but blessings to you and your congregation.  I hope and pray you can navigate these waters in a way that is a model for others.   


A Covenant church nearby  has had great success with confirmation class.  This is offered to students at least in 7th grade, it is a two year program, taught by the pastors and several teachers.   It is very doctrinal and ends in a special worship where each student has a written one page testimony as they join the church.  The class is taught on Wednesday nights and students are only allowed a few misses. 




1st:  Put up on a big board every single position that the church has, including greeters, lawn mowers, coffee makers, ushers, teachers, students, youth group leaders and youth group, nursery, committee members, elders and deacons, etc. . . .   Some of these positions are filled for a term and are already listed, but most are volunteer positions. 

The congregation will be surprised at how many different things there are to do in the life of the church.  This helps people to see that it is not true that 20% do 80% of the work.   In fact, there are many many people that are doing their part. 

Week ONE:   The First Week of August:  This is the "Keep your hat week".   The pastor or person running the Hat's Game makes a big deal of FIRING EVERYONE.   Thank them for their service.  Talk about what a great job they did and the church could run without them.     But as of Sept. 1, they will no longer hold that position.    However, if this is their joyful place, and they want to wear that hat again for another year, they may sign up that hat.  Only people keeping a hat may sign up on week one.   

What this does:  It sends the strong message that you are not signing up for life.  And it gives you an opportunity to thank people. It also means that no one is kicked out of a position where they enjoy serving.

WEEK TWO:  The second week of August:  This is the "Week of Joy."  The announcement is made to draw attention to all those who signed up last week who are continuing in their position.  But, if there is a position that you would really like to try out!  GO for it.  This is your place of JOY!   Serve where you have passion.  Sign up where ever you want to as many times as you want to. 

WEEK THREE AND FOUR:   These are the "Guilt Weeks".  We have the board 90% filled, but the nursery is still in need, as is the hospitality ministry.   It takes all of us working together.  Everyone should have already picked up at least one hat that you feel called to.  But now is a time to pick up a hat that you do for the sake of service and because you are a part of the family. 

After the HATS game is over, the leader of each ministry or ministry division call those who have signed up and distribute job descriptions and schedules and thank them.  

This has worked for us for many many years.   

In one of the churches I served as a pastor, there was a rule that spouses could not serve on council at the same time.   When the council realized that my wife would never be allowed to serve with that policy in place,  the council made an exception for her.  She is a very gifted person and not only was she delighted to serve, but the church was well served.    She would simply abstain from voting when needed.   Another church made the rule that spouses not only could serve, but allowed a husband and wife to serve as deacons together.  They were each gifted deacons and they enjoyed the activity together.  They also enjoyed not being deacons together, rather than one of them almost always in office.   This worked out very well.  We never felt there was a voting block or abuse of power.   We trusted each other and made our points.  Sometimes they agreed and sometimes they did not.  

Article 37 does limit the discussion at Congregational Meetings to those items presented by the council.   There would be nothing wrong, in my opinion, for opening up the floor for comment,  but no action could take place outside of the set agenda.   On the other hand, there would be nothing wrong with not allowing additional comment either.   If a congregational member had questions, they can go to the council meeting to work on those questions.   The Council, or the consistory, are deliberative bodies that seek out the will and direction of the Holy Spirit in guiding the church.  They work deliberatively, prayerfully and thoughtfully.  They publish the agenda prior to the meeting to give time for deliberative and thoughtful and prayerful decisions by the congregation. 


Many churches hold Congregational Meetings, where decisions are made, and also hold Town Hall meetings for the sake of informing the congregation about ministry.    No decisions are made at a Town Hall meeting.             

This puts into words very well part of the unique challenge of the pastoral life.  Well done! 

Ok thanks.  I've ordered some of the books suggested and will soon be able to see pp. 53 and 54!   Thanks for you thoughts on the Atonement theories as well.  I find this very helpful.  Again, if  you have good resources to recommend on alienation-restoration or humiliation glorification -- I would welcome that.  i would like to see how an author works that out.    

 God used The Global Gospel as a tool to help me understand shame and how to deal with it.   In the West we do not even see it, but it is there.  When Adam and Eve fell, what do they say?   "We disobeyed?"  "We are guilty?"   "We sinned?"  or "We were ashamed, so we hid."   When the Prodigal's son repents, his words are words of shame --  "I am no longer worthy to be called your son."  When Jesus touches the leper, He is showing His power to cleanse the unclean.  When He calls the woman bleeding for 12 years a "daughter" He replaces her shame filled unclean identity with His honor.    Jesus absorbs our shame and honors us with a new title.   He endured the cross, scorning it's shame  (Hebrews 12:1-2).   Thanks for bringing up this topic! 


Jesus absorbs our shame and covers us with His honor.   That is what I meant to say.   I like that idea of being covered with the honor of Christ because our tendency is to cover ourselves with fig leaves and hide.   But Jesus gives a covering that allows us to come out of the darkness. 

This shift makes sense to me.  (What is doxing?)   I observe a general loss of a moral center, or a moral authority.   I grew up in Christendom, but our society has steadily shifted away from honoring God or the Scriptures or even the Judeo Christian heritage.   Francis Schaffer predicted this in his spot on analysis in a book titled  A Christian Manifesto.    While growing up, there was a strong and pervasive sense of right and wrong.   That fits well with guilt and righteousness or innocence as the main axis upon which to measure one's standing in society.   "Am I a good man?"   Well, at least better than those fools on Jerry Springer.   But now, with a moral center as weak as "Do no harm" and "Seek your own fulfillment and pleasure,"  it would follow that the axis of Guilt and Innocence would weaken and the axis of honor and shame would strengthen.        

A question I would ask then is, "What does it mean to be an honorable person in American society?"   "What values does one need to uphold in society in order to be perceived honorably and to avoid shame?"   What is the measuring stick?


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